Staff and students at local K-12 schools in Grande Prairie will be back for in-person learning starting January 10th. The Alberta government put new measures into place, which include shipments of medical masks, as well as rapid test kits. All of those items will be available to students and staff.
Grande Prairie Public School Division Superintendent Sandy McDonald says that he appreciates these new measures.
“I feel that the government shares our goal of making the health and safety of students and staff the top priority. I appreciate hearing from Alberta education their continued commitment to that and also that they are trying to make the experience as positive as possible for our students,” he says.
McDonald says that navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic for the local school board has been a challenge, no doubt. He says that the board does have some concerns with the current back-to-school plan.
“The change in the testing protocols concerns us a little bit. We will no longer have access to reports from Alberta Health Services about how many students are testing positive with the COVID-19 virus,” he explains. “This is because only select people in the province will be able to go for PCR testing and get those results. Last year we were given information and hard data, about how many students were away, which was valuable to us.”
McDonald says that he appreciates the government supplying medical masks and rapid test kits for students and staff.
“We will receive a shipment of medical masks and rapid testing kits for all students and staff. We are expecting to receive those the week of January 10th,” he explains. “All staff, as well as students from grades 4-12, will be required to wear them while in school. We’re glad to see the government is taking additional measures,” he says.
The rapid tests will be voluntary and for parents to use at home. McDonald says that above all else, students and staff are excited to be going back, with in-person learning in place.
“Our staff is preparing to be back after the holiday break. We always had January 10th as our return date, so it doesn’t change much for us. With the added safety measures in place, the government seems to have a good plan, and collectively, everyone is excited to get going again,” he says.